In this week’s ¨Who’s Out There Now¨ feature, we bring to you Jack and Jill, who runs the creatively named site, JackandJillTravel.com. They’ve been on the road a couple of months now and have settled into their travel routine. They’ve been hiking, biking, rappelling and managed to down a few ants, a local delicacy in one part of rural Colombia. They are proving that a career break trip is active travel.
1. So, where in the world are you answering these questions?
We’re currently in Lima, Peru
2. First of all, how is that you missed visiting me in Bogota?
That was truly unfortunate. But we had to get to Ecuador for our volunteering commitment. And besides, everyone kept talking about how cold Bogota was at that time of the year. Brrr….
3. You started blogging while you were still employed keeping your identities hidden until you ¨came out.¨ Looking back, do you still think it was necessary to stay so undercover?
For us, yes. It’s a constant balancing act between making our site personal, and yet protecting our individual identities (especially since we work in the web industry). I guess it’s worth mentioning now (since there has been some misconceptions) that Jack and Jill have always been our online nicknames – not our real ones.
4. How has your travel style changed since you first started traveling a few months ago?
Hmm – it hasn’t changed much, really. Although strangely enough, since we have this vague plan to come back to Ecuador to celebrate New Year we feel like we need to speed things up a bit if we do want to make it through Bolivia and Argentina as well. We’ve been taking our sweet time so far and loving it – but from now on the plan is to keep moving a tad faster.
5. Career break, nomadic adventure, backpacking, how do you characterize your travels?
Lucky in all sense of the word. Lucky that we have the opportunity to do this, lucky in that even though it seems we don’t know what we’re doing, we manage to get this far without sick days and without any major catastrophe (other than Jill losing her favorite socks) *knock on wood*. We’re constantly amazed.
6. Jill you are a vegetarian. How easy or difficult has it been to travel around South America finding veg-only dishes? And, ants don’t count as meat?
*grins* I’m not a vegetarian really. I do eat fish (certain fish) – so that definitely makes things easier since I’m hopeless in the kichen. Not really sure where ants fall in into my dietary beliefs – so that’s why I opted out of eating them (nothing to do with how big those ants are – really, nothing at all).
7. What are some of the secrets to travel that you’ve discovered that you think more people who aren’t traveling should know?
What’s with all of these hard questions? Secrets to travel? They’re not all fun and joy every single minute and every single day. There are grunt days as well, more then one would think – days such as today when we walk around looking like clowns because it’s laundry day. Days such as when we spent hours online looking for visa requirements and more hours collecting paperworks needed. But you know, it’s all worth it.
8. What was your first ¨I’m not in Kansas anymore¨ moment?
Pretty much as soon as landed in the first city on our trip (Cartagena, Colombia). The fact that nobody understood us and we didn’t understand anybody – and everyone asking if I’m from Japan/China (I’m used to that now), was definitely a ‘I’m not in Kansas (or in our case California) anymore”
9. What’s been your most ¨local¨ experience so far?
We were volunteering in Baños for 2 months and with Baños being such a small town as it is, we’ve gotten to know some of the locals (who mostly work for the tourist agencies). We’ve gotten invited to the local farras (fiestas), learned about the local gossips (which locals hooked up with which gringas last night), and learned the best spots in town for anything from viewing the volcano to rock climbing.
10. What has been your most embarrassing moment?
Editor’s note: BOOOOO!!!!
11. What tips do you have for other couples out there about traveling together and not get on each other’s nerves too much?
We often do separate activities. Whenever Jack feels like nerding off in front of his laptop (sounds dirty – but you know what I mean), I often take day trips by myself to places I know won’t interest him – and vice versa. But it would be a lie to say that we don’t get on each other’s nerves a lot. I guess what made us get through the bickerings is knowing that what didn’t kill us only makes our relationship stronger. It’s no surprise that most traveling couples out there have mentioned that their time spent traveling together has been the hardest ones in their marriage life.
12. What’s your secret for getting the most out of your journey?
Once we got over the pressure to see as much as possible – we feel a lot more content enjoying wherever we happen to be. Also, not feeling pressured to do stuff just because everybody else is doing it. For example – people go to Ecuador and Peru and they head to the Amazon, ya? A couple of times I thought, ‘Hmm, maybe we should go there too. It is, after all, the Amazon.’ But at the same time I know that I don’t like the humidity, nor the insects, nor can we afford it really. We just have no interest in that region after all – so we don’t go. We’d rather spend the time in places we do enjoy: like small pueblos and the mountains.
13. Finally, our lightening round…
- Best dish you’ve found so far. Jill: parihuela (fish stew) Jack: chicharron de pescado (fried fish nuggets) (Both are Peruvian)
- Most exotic food eaten. Jill: The most exotic food I’ve eaten I actually ate in Santa Barbara, California (does it count?). It was a fermented soybean served during a Japanese festival. I’d also like to point out that it was also the most disgusting thing I’ve eaten as well. Jack: the Hormigas Culonas – toasted giant ants from Colombia. Salty. Like peanuts.
- Most breathtaking moment. Jill: in the Huayhuash trek after doing a 1000 m (3300 ft) elevation gain in 5 hours. Literally – I couldn’t breathe. Jack: jumping off a bridge in Banos. Did you see the video?
- Biggest disappointment. Jack: food in Colombia. Jill: Quito. Didn’t have that high of an expectation and it was still a disappointment.
- Most memorable place. Arte del Mundo (or ‘the Bib’) – the place we volunteered at in Banos. Good times and good friends there.
- Most memorable person. How could you ask us to play favorites? Does it have to be a person? If not, Vomit the dog – a dog we befriended during our Huayhuash trek would have to be the most memorable character. He was the happiest dog we’ve ever seen although he does have a penchant for lapping up trekkers’ vomits (those who are sick from the altitude) – thus the name.
- Best thing to have on a long bus ride. Jack – water. Jill – water? seriously? Of everything else possible: a hot chick sitting next to you, a Wii, non-B list movies, you’d say water?
- Worst thing to have on a long bus ride. Jack: Someone who snores. Jill: Seats that don’t recline
- Best thing you packed. Jack: laptop. Jill: quick dry underwear
- Dumbest thing you packed. Hmm – tough to say. We didn’t pack anything we don’t use on an almost daily basis. With the exception of our climbing shoes and harness. We didn’t get to use them until after 4 months of traveling. But they did come in handy the few times we did go climbing
- Funniest travel habit you have. Not sure if it’s funny but we do like to take pictures of American fast food signs we’ve encountered here in South America. Every now and then, we’ve been known to enter the establishments too after taking the pictures.
- Place you wish you could’ve stayed longer. Ooooh – pretty much everywhere with the exception of those big cities. Any of the Colombian pueblos, Huaraz (Peru), Hatun Machay (Peru), Banos (Ecuador)… But to be more exact, I still regret the fact that we only visited Guatape, a Colombian pueblo, as a day trip. It was such a charming pueblo – we could’ve definitely spent more time there.
Every week, Career Break Secrets profiles a different traveler or traveling couple who are embracing the ¨Because Life Is Out There TM¨ travel spirit. These are people who have taken the plunge to embark on a career break and are currently traveling the world.